Tolliver shut his eyes. The hand on the sheet clenched.
The skin over the knuckles was white, like the sheet, which
sagged to show the outline of the body. Leaning over the
footboard, Mr. Munn held the revolver at arm's length,
pointed at the body high up. The faint rays of the lamp fell
palely across the man's face, shadowing the sunken sockets of
the closed eyes. The wrinkles and tiny veining on the eyelids
showed a little, like the veining of leaves. The man's lips
were slightly parted, as though in thirst.
" I'm going to," Mr. Munn said.
Somewhere in the room a clock was ticking with an un-
hurried, metallic sound.
"I'm going to," he repeated, "in a minute. When I've
looked at you."
He waited, the revolver unwavering.
Then he commanded suddenly, "Open your eyes."
The man on the bed gave no sign.
" Open your eyes."
"Why don't you, Perse?" the voice whispered dryly. But
the man's eyes were dosed.
The revolver sank a few inches, uncertainly.
" I thought," Mr. Munn murmured, as in reverie, " I could
The man on the bed opened his eyes. " You couldn't do
it," the voice said croakingly.
The hand holding trie revolver sank until it rested against
the footboard of the bed. The contact of the metal on wood
made a single, small sound. Then Tolliver shifted his head
on the pillow, weakly, like a sick man. "Give me a little
water," he said.
Mr, Munn looked toward the bureau, where a pitcher and
glass stood near the lamp. He transferred the revolver to Ms
left hand and took a step toward the bureau. At a sight
creaking sound behind him, he wheeled abruptly.
The door from the next room had opened. There, ia tiie
opening, one hand still resting on the latch and the otter
suspended in the air before her breast, Matilda Tolliver stood